July 29, 2007 12:35 am
BY TAFT COGHILL JR.
It takes a lot to faze Nate Ilaoa.
The former North Stafford High School star wide receiver was referred to as "Nasti Nate" by his teammates at the University of Hawaii.
He rebounded with two solid seasons after missing all of 2004 at Hawaii because of knee surgery.
He's lived all over the United States, including California, Utah, Oklahoma and Missouri.
After a standout career as a collegiate running back, Ilaoa was taken in the seventh round of the NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles this past April.
But even with all his worldliness, Ilaoa admits to being a bit overwhelmed when he stepped on the field for an Eagles mini-camp earlier this summer.
"When you come out to practice and you take hand-offs from Donovan McNabb and you have to block Takeo Spikes, you realize you aren't playing with these guys on a video game anymore," Ilaoa said in a telephone interview last week. "These guys are actually real, and you're actually out there playing with them."
If being in the NFL didn't sink in to Ilaoa in mini-camp, it likely will in the coming weeks. The Eagles opened training camp yesterday at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.
The 5-foot-9, 245-pound Ilaoa signed a four-year contract with the Eagles last week.
He isn't listed as one of the top three running backs on their depth chart, but he said he plans to battle players like three-year veteran Ryan Moats and fellow rookie Tony Hunt for a spot on Philadelphia's 53-man active roster.
"I'm just going to try to make it hard for the coaches to decide," Ilaoa said. "All I can really do is put my best foot forward, and hopefully the coaches will recognize that."
Article continued at Fredricksburg.com